A Western Grey Kangaroo joey emerged into the sunshine recently at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park in Devon, UK.
The rather ungainly exit from its mother’s pouch was probably the youngster’s first attempt. Born in May or June last year, it’s been developing in its mother’s pouch for months.
Paignton Zoo Curator of Mammals, Neil Bemment, said, “It’s been peeking out for a while, but the weather was just too chilly and wet for it to want to come out completely...and who can blame it!”
Photographer, and regular Paignton Zoo visitor, Miriam Haas, who took the photos, said, “It [the joey] spent a good 10 minutes or more enjoying the sunshine before returning to the safety of the pouch.”
The Western Grey Kangaroo Macropus fuliginosus (also referred to as a Black-faced Kangaroo, Mallee Kangaroo, and Sooty Kangaroo) is a large and very common kangaroo found across almost the entire southern part of Australia.
The Western Grey Kangaroo is one of the largest macropods in Australia. An adult can weigh 28–54 kg (62–120 lb) and have a length of 0.84–1.1 m (2 ft 9 in–3 ft 7 in), and a 0.80–1.0 m (2 ft 7 in–3 ft 3 in) tail. They stand approximately 1.3 m (4 ft 3 in) tall.
This species is difficult to distinguish from its sibling species, the Eastern Grey Kangaroo Macropus giganteus. However, the Western Grey Kangaroo has darker fur, darker coloration around the head, and sometimes has a black patch around the elbow.
The Western Grey Kangaroo feeds at night, mainly on grasses but also on leafy shrubs and low trees. It has a nickname "stinker" because mature males have a distinctive odor.
The kangaroo lives in groups of up to 15. The males compete for females during the breeding season. During these "boxing" contests, they lock arms and try to push each other over. Usually, only the dominant male in the group is allowed to mate.
The gestation period is 30–31 days, after which, the incompletely developed fetus (referred to as a joey) attaches to the teat in the mother’s pouch for 130–150 days.
The joey will first emerge from the pouch at about six months, spending increasing amounts of time in the outside world until, after around eight months, it leaves the pouch for the last time.
The Western Grey Kangaroo is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.